From a cup of tea and a daily newspaper to help pass the time while waiting on appointments, to giving patients space away from their beds and busy wards with our comfy day rooms. Everything we do is aimed at making a really difficult time a little easier.
Take a look at just some of the ways the little things are making a big impact below.
For many people, a cancer diagnosis can have a knock-on effect on several areas in their lives, and in order to receive the treatment they need, they may have to reduce their working hours or stop working altogether. As a result, patients might be faced with a dramatic reduction in their income.
To help patients deal with the extra costs that cancer can bring about, Friends of the Cancer Centre’s patient grants programme is available for anyone who is currently undergoing treatment at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre or the North West Cancer Centre. We work closely with the social work team to try to ensure that we can provide a helping hand for any patient if they need it. This is not a hand out in our eyes; it’s a helping hand. That’s just what friends do.
*Complementary therapy treatments have restarted on a controlled basis due to Covid-19*
Our four therapists offer care to patients by providing clinical aromatherapy, reflexology and adapted massage treatments. While our therapists are unable to currently deliver these treatments to patients in person due to COVID-19, we have a range of online support available on our YouTube channel here. For further information regarding the complementary therapy, please call the team at the Macmillan Support and Information Centre 028 9063 8980.
*Classes are currently only available online due to Covid-19*
Exercise can be a great way for patients to alleviate some of the stresses and side effects of treatment. While in-person classes are on hold due to COVID-19, we have been working with our funded staff to develop a range of online classes which you can do from the comfort of your own home. View the online classes here. For further information regarding the classes, please call the team at the Macmillan Support and Information Centre 028 9063 8980.
Laurena joined the team in 2020 as our Social Worker for Teenagers & Young Adults in the Cancer Centre. She works as part of the wider TYA service to ensure that the complex and specialist needs of the young people in her care are provided for. Laurena works with both patients and their carers, family and friends, to safeguard and support them, helping to make a difficult time a little easier.
*Glenview House is currently closed due to Covid-19*
Glenview House is the on-site patient hotel which is used by patients who live outside Belfast and would otherwise face long journeys to and from the Cancer Centre for treatment. In 2008, the charity invested £150,000 into the unique project which was used to fund a complete refurbishment of the building and to this day, Glenview offers a home away from home for many people when they need it most.
Joe Sirichas, our Physical Activity Coach, works to support patients before, during, and after treatment to remain as active, fit, and healthy as possible. Joe offers twelve-week group or one-to-one sessions with tailored support. During these sessions, Joe works to help patients increase their fitness, strength, posture, mobility, and flexibility. Joe has also developed online classes to support patients through the pandemic which you can check out here.
Many patients and families are faced with long stays in the Cancer Centre and we are here to make sure that their stay is as comfortable as possible. Our refurbished day rooms in the Cancer Centre are a haven away from busy wards and hospital beds where you can relax in a soft chair, watch some television, enjoy a cup of tea or simply chat to family and friends in a more homely environment
Thousands of people attend the NI Cancer Centre or North West Cancer Centre each day, and it can often be a long wait for treatment. To help pass the time, Friends of the Cancer Centre provides over 50,000 complimentary cups of tea or coffee each year – served in our own special cups – and a free newspaper or magazine. It’s not a lot, but it makes a big difference.
Transporting patients safely between different wards and departments is a full-time job for the hospital’s porters. The charity bought a batch of wheelchairs to ensure that one is available when a patient needs it, and each of the wheelchairs can cover up to 6 miles in a day. This also helps to avoid delays in other departments by ensuring that patients within the hospital are on time for appointments.
Hidden in the middle of the Cancer Centre is an oasis for patients and staff away from the hustle and bustle of treatment and appointments. The gardens provide an escape where patients can enjoy some peace and quiet while surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants. Each year, Friends of the Cancer Centre purchases the flowers, plants and some of the ornamental features in the garden and they are maintained by volunteers.
Life doesn’t stop for patients undergoing treatment and many will find themselves celebrating their birthday, Christmas Day, or even getting married, at the Cancer Centre. With the help of staff on the wards, we buy our patients a gift to help them mark their special day. In the past we have helped a couple get married in the hospital, given gifts to young patients on their 18th birthday, and even sent Santa to the wards on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts.
Friends of the Cancer Centre also works to support children and young people attending the Cancer Centre for treatment. A little welcoming gift is on hand when they first come to radiotherapy and they also have their own area, packed full of toys, books and puzzles to distract worried little minds. Our kids zone is also a great distraction for families who often have to bring their children to hospital with them for appointments, giving them a place to pass the time.
While they might look simple, the patient pager becomes a familiar feature for any patient coming to the Cancer Centre. The pagers are given to patients on arrival and when the doctor or nurse is ready to see them, the pager vibrates and flashes. The pager has a wide radius which gives the patient freedom to move around the hospital, get a coffee or bite to eat, safe in the knowledge that they won’t miss their appointment.
Being diagnosed with cancer is a confusing time and most patients have questions about their diagnosis and treatment. Giving patients access to correct information is a key priority throughout the hospital and in recent years the charity has funded the production of cancer specific leaflets, a radiotherapy information video and leaflets about support services available for patients and carers throughout their treatment.
Cancer treatment often means more than receiving radiotherapy or chemotherapy, as many patients will also need help dealing with the side effects of their cancer through rehabilitation. Friends of the Cancer is supporting this by funding vital equipment, like shoulder rope pulleys and these walking aids, in the hospital’s physiotherapy department.